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Cowichan Terry Fox Run hoping to smash $4,000 goal

Annual Terry Fox run to be held at Duncan’s Evans Park for the first time

Legendary Canadian athlete, humanitarian, and cancer research activist Terry Fox taught the nation the power of perseverance, and humility when he first embarked on his east-to-west coast journey dubbed the Marathon of Hope in 1980, in an effort to raise money and awareness for cancer research. Fox’s right leg was amputated due to osteogenic sarcoma, more commonly known as bone cancer.

Months after Fox’s death in 1981, the first annual Terry Fox Run commenced to show the world that anything is possible if you try. Since, the Terry Fox Run has been a staple in cities and communities of all sizes across the nation each September.

READ MORE: 43 years ago, Canadian hero Terry Fox began his cross-country Marathon of Hope

Mark Swannell who moved to the valley from Manchester just five years ago is bringing the annual event to Evans Park for the first time ever on Sept. 17. Aside from walking for a great man, and cause in which all proceeds go to the Terry Fox Foundation it will be a day of family fun activities. The event will begin at 10 a.m., and participants can register in person on the day at 9 a.m. or pre-register at

”I just learned about it when I moved here to work as a teacher five years ago,” said Swannell. “I first became involved in organizing the Terry Fox Run at Shawnigan Lake School, then when I heard last year that they were looking for a new organizer for the one in Duncan, I decided to step up and take on that role. I was just truly inspired by the whole Terry Fox story, and how much it means to Canadians, and as a former marathon runner myself, what an amazing endeavour.”

Last year’s Terry Fox Run which was the first one post COVID, was held at the B.C. Forest Discovery Centre. It raised $3,500 for the Terry Fox Foundation, while this year’s goal is set at $4,000. Swannell said they are halfway there.

He made the decision to move it to Evans Park this year as he felt the venue would provide a safer route, and make it more family oriented. Like many, Swannell has seen one of his own relatives succumb to cancer which he said was tough for the whole family.

“I think everyone has someone in their life who has been affected by cancer, it is something that affects everyone, and an event like this brings people together for the same reason,” said Swannell. “The Terry Fox Foundation gives each host a target based on previous efforts. We’re over halfway to reaching our goal, and it feels great, seeing the numbers increase over the past week, has been very encouraging.”

Fox began his quest in St. John’s, Newfoundland and after travelling an incredible distance of 5,373 km over the course of 143 days his marathon was cut short just outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario. This year’s walk to honour Terry, which will be a combination of walking both the field and trails located at the park, will begin with the Duncan Dragon Divas creating an archway with their paddles for all in attendance to walk through.

“Learning about his journey and what he means to other Canadians has been phenomenal,” said Swannell.

“We will have a really neat start, I saw it for the first time last year, and it was really great to see,” said Swannell. “People have a choice to participate in two, four, or a six kilometre walk or run, so it’s accessible for everyone. I even have a wheelchair friendly course that goes along the trails.”

Local organizations including the Duncan Kinsmen and the Ceevacs local running club have also stepped up to ensure that the event is a success, and Queen Margaret’s School will be providing a bouncy castle and gelato for that extra dose of family fun.

“For me the most rewarding part about organizing this event is seeing it all come together,” said Swannell. “Just seeing the people come together, and seeing that money coming in, because that’s what it is all about, raising money for the foundation. I also hope people take away that they are part of the bigger picture, that hundreds of these events are happening across Canada — there are at least half a dozen happening on the island. So whatever event people take in on Sept. 17, they are going to be close to Terry Fox. It’s just amazing to me that on this day, this event happens nationwide.”

About the Author: Chadd Cawson

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